Miner’s Lettuce is a broadleaf plant found throughout California (except for the lower desert areas). It inhabits natural plant communities, agricultural land, and urban areas, with a preference for cool, damp conditions. It dries up with the onset of hot weather.
The flowers of Miner’s Lettuce bloom from February through May. Five to forty white to pale pink flowers on slender down-curved stalks cluster above a circular to weakly squared, often cuplike, green structure that looks like a leaf and completely surrounds the stem.
This is an edible plant with pleasingly crunchy, mild-tasting, large leaves. The plant got its name because the Gold Rush miners ate it to stave off the scurvy, which is caused by a Vitamin C deficiency. It is one of the few North American wild plants exported to Europe as a salad green.
Miner’s Lettuce is an important source of food for wildlife, providing a grazing source for gophers, quail, doves and rodents, while seed-eating birds eat the plant’s fruit. On a cool, rainy day like today, these plants seem to be thriving.